Been a reader of SO/SE for a while as am getting into Android development. Just wanted to ask a quick question. Hope someone can help. :)

I have a HTC desire (2.2 with HTC sense, as per stock), never rooted and little used (basic apps installed, not used for any dev) I use as just a phone really. Hence I was very surprised when it crashed the other day and all my SMS/MMS were deleted (the stock HTC Messages app was empty)!

I know I should not have rebooted the device (as file recovery may be easier as it reduces chances of file space being overwritten), but was told to do so by T-Mobile advisor.

Upon reboot, found the stock HTC Messages app used for SMS/MMS was was now populated by SMS that was saved on the SIM. Hence I think, the Desire recreated the SMS/MMS content using the saved SIM messages as a start.

What I would like to know is can the older SMS/MMS be recovered? I assume they are stored in... /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases/smsmms.db ...and that this file (originally with 500+ messages) has been overwritten by a new smsmms.db (now containing ~5 messages), but as I am new to Android/Linux am not sure if this assumption is right e.g. the new smsmms.db file could be written to a different disk location (as is common on FAT32/NTFS file systems in Windows) and hence with the right know-how the original file can be recovered (I've recvered many files like this in Windows without issue).

Does anyone know how to recover SMS/MMS messages like that, or how to recover/undelete files from these devices in general (I don't mind if it is only a partial file and I have to rebuild/extract messages).

  • Related/duplicate: android.stackexchange.com/questions/5414/…
    – Bryan Denny
    Jan 31, 2011 at 17:30
  • Not a dupe, but that question could potentially help. Jan 31, 2011 at 17:46
  • Are you sure the messages have actually gone? I don't have an HTC, but a lot of phones have an option to either view the SIM card texts, or the on-device texts, have you checked that switched you to the other mode?
    – GAThrawn
    Jan 31, 2011 at 20:44
  • Yes I have checked. Went to TMobile store as thought it may be a known problem, where they rebooted phone to check that.I prefer not to reboot as if any data loss does occur on a device I know best thing to do is put it in Airplane mode or similar (where no signal/messages/calls are sent or received) to minimize risk of potentially overwriting data and then attempt recovery
    – user2586
    Jan 31, 2011 at 23:48
  • Yes I've checked & went to TMobile store as thought it may be a known problem, where they rebooted phone to check. I wanted no reboot because know if any data loss did occur best thing to do is put in Airplane mode or similar (where no signal/sms/calls sent or received) to minimize risk of potentially overwriting data & and then attempt recovery. Anyway, upon reboot SMS application had zero content & appeared to rebuild the database by importing messages stored on SIM. I think best approach now is a linux level data recovery as file may be (at least partially) overwritten, but am not sure.
    – user2586
    Feb 1, 2011 at 0:04

3 Answers 3


I don't hold out much hope that the .db file was not overwritten, but I recommend mounting the phone storage to a PC (preferably Linux as Mac will write immediately and Windows might also) to attempt recovery. I don't know what tool to use offhand but search results look promising http://www.google.com/q=linux+file+recovery

  • Thanks. Does the phone have to be rooted to do this? Will try a few things out and write back if I'm successful.
    – user2586
    Feb 1, 2011 at 0:05
  • Yes, you do need root to access /data like that unfortunately. Feb 1, 2011 at 1:03

Also had a problem with an HTC Thunderbolt constantly crashing. It sounds like your messages are gone, but for future reference, the best solution I've found is SMS Backup +. This app will keep a copy of your SMS and MMS messages synced to your Gmail account and/or backed up to an SD card.


I use McAfee WaveSecure... When I charge up my phone at night, it backs up my SMS and Contacts. I can also lock down my phone and make an alarm go off if I can't find my phone from anywhere on the web.

It's free to download and I highly recommend it.

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